Woma pythons have a distinctive pattern of light and dark brown alternating bands. These can range in colour from yellow to reddish, grey or olive-brown. On their underside they are a creamy yellow colour. Both albino and fully black specimens of this species have been known to exist. They have a narrow head leading to a thin body which tapers to a point at the end. Their body is covered in small scales with those on the head being larger to assist them when burrowing. It is a non-venomous snake but the narrow pointed head often leads to them being confused for a venomous species.They lack heat sensitive pits along the lips and head due to their diet being mostly other reptiles.
The length of woma python’s varies across their range from 1.2-2.7m (4-9ft) long. This can also lead to a large variance in weight from 1kg to 5kg (2.2 to 11lbs).
When a prey item is captured in a burrow the woma is not able to coil around it as a snake traditionally would. Instead they use their body to crush prey against the wall.
Australia is the native home of the woma python. Here they can be found throughout South Western Queensland, Central Australia and into Western Australia.
They live in the shrublands, woodlands and grasslands. During the day they will shelter in hollow logs or animal burrows. They will enlarge the burrows which they use using the shovel like head. Mostly they live in areas of sandy soil to make digging easier.
Breeding occurs between May and August. Between September to October a clutch of 5-19 eggs is laid by the mother. These are deposited into the mother’s burrow where she will rap around them for the next two months. If they become cold she can shiver to warm them up.
Following their hatching the young woma python’s will be completely independent.
The woma python is nocturnal spending their nights hunting while the day is spent curled up in a burrow or amongst vegetation.
Predators of the woma python include introduced red foxes and cats as well as the native mulga snake. The latter has hampered South Australian reintroduction efforts as a result of the mulga snakes eating the woma pythons before they had a chance to breed.
This species is also referred to as the sand python or Ramsay’s python after the person who discovered them, Edward Pierson Ramsay.
The genus name aspidites translates to a shield bearer as a result of their symmetrical head scales.
Woma pythons are a popular pet both in their native Australia and overseas. They are voracious eaters in captivity with one in 2015 not just eating the rat he was offered but the tongs as well. The snake survived after receiving emergency surgery.
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Bruton, M., Wilson, S., Shea, G., Ellis, R., Venz, M., Hobson, R. & Sanderson, C. 2017. Aspidites ramsayi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T2176A83765377. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-3.RLTS.T2176A83765377.en. Downloaded on 27 April 2020.
Swanson, S., 2012. Field Guide To Australian Reptiles. 2nd ed. Steve Parish Publishing.
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